A Writer’s Give-Thanks List

A Writer’s Give-Thanks List

cwmg-front-no-apThis Thanksgiving weekend is a fine time to give thanks for the good things in a writer’s life. You may not have a published book or even a byline yet, but there are still a fair number of writerly things for which to be thankful.

  1. Reference Materials. Maybe a good thesaurus isn’t at the top of your list—until you need to find that exactly perfect word to liven up your sentence. We have great reference materials available that make our writing lives easier and more accurate.
  • The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, 4th Edition.
  • The Christian Writer’s Market Guide. See the new edition pictured here.
  • The Writers’ Market Guide.
  • Dictionary, thesaurus, atlas, etc.
  • Bible dictionaries, atlases, feast guides, etc.
  1. Learning Tools. From books to audio and video classes; from magazines to online courses—there is absolutely no reason to let your writing education lag. A couple of websites to visit and books to read:
  1. Top-Level Conferences. Christian writers conferences abound, leaving you no excuse not to attend at least one conference a year. A range of price points, lengths, and locations mean you’ll find one perfect for you. Check these out:
  1. Fellow Travelers. Every writer needs writer friends, whether online buddies or in-person BFFs, so you’ll have at least one person who:
  • Doesn’t look at you strangely when you talk about your characters as real people.
  • Understands that writing is your calling, not something you fit in when you can.
  • Knows that your house isn’t clean but your sentences are sound.chaos-627218__340
  • Understands that you aren’t at your family’s beck and call every minute of the day just because you’re writing at home.
  • Gets your need for strong coffee/dark chocolate/gold fish crackers/mint tea/etc.
  • Will happily go with you to literary movies or shows such as “Jane Eyre: The Musical.”
  • Won’t harangue you for buying one more writing book.
  • Will room with you at conferences and weekend writing retreats.
  1.  Editors. On the whole, editors make your work better. Those of you saying, “But my work is already great,” clearly need an editor. Whether a magazine or book editor, let pencil-1692530__340 them do their work and trust them to make your work smoother, less wordy, less confusing and more interesting. That said, if an editor makes a mistake mention it nicely and ask he or she, respectfully, to fix it. Side notes on editors:
  • Once you are done with your novel and your self-editing, hire a professional editor to look it over and make suggestions.
  • Editing isn’t the same as proofreading, though they overlap. Proofreaders (or copyeditors) look at your post-edited manuscript for typos and other small mistakes.
  • A good editor is worth every penny. Listen to what they say!
  1. A good and fast computer is the best thing ever. The Internet is a great way to research anything from a Civil War battle to who stars in the movie you want to see. A smart phone can hold your schedule, all your email, surf the Internet in the line at the bank, text your kids and friends, monitor your heartbeat, and actually call people too. Love technology; use it wisely.

What are you writers thankful for this holiday weekend? We all want to know!



The Q&A: Karen Kingsbury

The Q&A: Karen Kingsbury

Karen Kingsbury / Key Author PhotoBestseller author Karen Kingsbury is known and loved for her Baxter family books. She’s written 24 in the collection, the most recent “The Baxter Family Christmas.” Another title, “Love Story,” comes out in June 2017 and a third next fall.

Kingsbury knows how to wring the emotions out of every character and scene. She’s been known to shed a tear while writing, and her readers certainly do too.

Q: How do you write fiction that touches readers so deeply?

A: I try to write people who are real and who readers can relate to. They see themselves or family members in the characters. I would be so disappointed if someone read my books and didn’t cry.

Q: Describe the point-of-view (POV) in your books.

A: I write from an alternating, deep POV. When I write that way I can go very deep and readers become emotionally engaged early on.

Q: How can fiction be a teaching tool?

A: A story can go through the back door of the heart like a teaching book cannot. When Jesus wanted to touch a heart, he told a story. Readers don’t just get caught up in a good read; their hearts become involved too. They realize that maybe they should make that phone call or that apology.

Q: How do you connect with your readers?

A: I connect vial an email newsletter and Facebook. I also have a live book club after each book launches. For four to six weeks, we meet for an hour. Readers post questions and I answer them. It’s a virtual living room with 60,000 people attending.

Q: What is the book club like?

A: We look at a number of chapters each week, and I have a video presentation at the beginning. This is prerecorded so I can concentrate on the readers. At the end of the hour we all say goodbye. People have become friends.

Q: Why do you think the Baxter family books are so popular?

A: The characters have faith and flaws. Through all of life’s ups and downs, they have stayed strong together. I think people see themselves, either the family they had or the family they wish they had.

Q: Do your books reach general market readers as well?

A: Thanks to our partnership with Simon & Schuster, which owns my publisher Howard Books, there are possibilities that wouldn’t have been there before. Half my readers probably don’t realize my books are Christian fiction. They are drawn by the story and it touches them, which they maybe haven’t experienced before. Christian readers expect to feel hopefulness; other readers are surprised by it.

Q: Any other news for the Baxter family?

A: Yes! Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are making a television series based on the Baxter family with MGM Studios. The screenwriter is just finishing up the pilot, and it will be on air at the end of 2017 or early 2018. No network yet, though.





The How-To: Build a Book Launch

The How-To: Build a Book Launch


Christine Bierma learned the ins and outs of using social media by researching and doing. She learned to boost her own speaking platform, then began working with author Lynn Austin to build her social media platform.

“Lynn had limited reach on Facebook and an old-fashioned blog on which she was posting twice a month. But the blog had no way for readers to reply,” said Christine. “I told her the blog was like walking into a house that hadn’t been redecorated in 20 years.”

They hired a local web designer in Holland, Mich., where Lynn lives, to build a website reflecting her style (www.lynnaustin.org). A photographer took new headshots.

Christine (www.christinebierma.com) began planning the launch for Waves of Mercy (Bethany House, Oct), something Lynn had never done before. She set up an application process and announced it via Facebook and the email newsletter (see my next blog on how to build an email newsletter). Interested readers could link to a Google form and fill out the application.

By day four, 75 slots had been filled. They ended up with 140 members in the Facebook launch team. The publisher gave permission to put a PDF of the first three chapters of Waves of Mercy on the launch page, which amped up the excitement.

Christine did a number of things with that launch team. She asked them to take a selfie with their favorite Lynn Austin book and post it; asked them to introduce themselves to the group when they joined; asked them to post reviews; she used Canva to create graphics with quotes from the book that the team then posted on their own social media.

“We had ladies saying they were praying for each other and sharing personal stories,” said Christine. “And they begged me not to close the launch page after the book was out. Even now, weeks after the official launch, they are posting on the page 3-4 times a week.”

Here are Christine Bierma’s key ingredients for a successful book launch:

  1. Personal touch. “Treat them as special. They are going to work for you for pretty much free, so be grateful for that,” she said.
  2. Make it simple. Provide graphics or quotes users can cut and paste easily; make posting on social media simple; don’t overwhelm with too many posts.
  3. Know your audience. “I know Lynn’s audience is mostly female and mostly over 30 so I chose to make Facebook our main platform because that’s where her readers are,” said Christine.
  4. Pick one or two platforms. Go where readers spend their time and concentrate on those places.

“Some of the power of the team was that it was small enough we could manage it, get to know individuals and encourage them,” said Bierma.

Find more information on book launches and book marketing in general:

Classes in marketing offered at www.christianwritersinstitute.com.

Michael Hyatt’s website: https://michaelhyatt.com/bestseller-launch-formula.html#

Search “book launch” or “virtual book launch” and find hundreds of sites.

Please share your best advice and warnings about book launches. We’d all love to hear what works and what doesn’t.